We’ve all had one of those mornings, haven’t we? We get up late, don’t have anything to wear, and realize there is no milk—or worse…coffee. Then our day ends up looking like falling dominoes. In slow motion. Because we didn’t prepare for our morning, the whole day becomes derailed. The same thing can happen with our homeschools. But a little preparation before we get started can make a big difference. We can have a successful homeschool day and year.
5 Simple But Powerful Steps for a Successful Homeschool
1. Have a vision for your homeschool.
Begin by defining your why.
When we know our why we are more likely to embrace what we are doing. Homeschooling can be wonderful and hard, overwhelming and beautiful. All in the same week or even day. At some points most of us moms wonder if our children would have been better off at private or public school. If not, we still have days we want to hide in the bathroom and not come out.
During these times a compelling why will help us to continue running the race, or in the case of homeschooling, the marathon.
Consider those crazy (I mean dedicated 😉) marathon runners. Hours of training, injuries, running in adverse weather conditions, breakthroughs, failure, and success are all a part of their journey. But those who keep their eyes on the goal persevere. They know that the prize of finishing well, of running the best race they can, will make the sacrifice worth it.
Related: The Finish Line
Create your vision statement.
When you know your why, then you can create a vision statement for your homeschool. A vision statement is
an aspirational description of what an organization would like to achieve or accomplish in the mid-term or long-term future. It is intended to serves as a clear guide for choosing current and future courses of action. (businessdictionary.com)
It is usually short—one sentence or even a phrase. But you can write out several paragraphs or even a page. Just do what works for you. There are no vision police coming to your home. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or perfectly written. It just needs to act as the guide for your unique homeschool. But go ahead and write it down so you can look at it later.
Often you’ll hear about the idea of a vision statements in relation to non-profit organizations or businesses. I love this explanation about vision statements in the article Difference Between Visions and Missions Statements: 25 Examples by
Your vision statement gives the company direction. It is the future of the business, which then provides the purpose…The vision statement promotes growth, both internally and externally. A strong vision helps teams focus on what matters the most for their company. It also invites innovation. A purpose-driven company envisions success as a whole, because they know what success means for their company.
Your family is a team, too. So consider the following questions when you write your homeschool vision:
- How will you promote internal and external growth in your kids?
- What should your main focus be in your homeschool?
- What matters the most in your homeschool? You family? Your children?
- What will success look like for you? How will it be defined?
- What purpose will drive you all?
Related: Homeschooling Success
2. Keep first things first.
Our homeschools must be based on a foundation of strong relationships. Our relationships, good or bad, will be here long after the books are put away or sold. Long after our children move out of our homes.
Nurture your relationship with your Savior.
You need strength for the marathon of homeschooling. You will be tired and l feel like giving up at times. But you don’t have to do this alone. How you do this will look different in the various seasons of motherhood, but you can do something to nurture your most important relationship. I wrote the connected series to help:
- How to Stay Connect To God Through His Word
- How to Stay Connected to God Through Prayer
- How to Stay Connected to God Through Community
Nurture your family relationships.
For some, the amount of time spent together because of homeschooling is glorious, but for others it is so hard. And for most of us it is a mixture of both, even on the same day.
At times siblings fight, children disobey, and we all whine and complain. It’s not exactly the picture often portrayed in stock photography and social media posts. We can get so busy “fighting fires” in our homes that it becomes difficult to connect deeply. But it is essential.
And in order to build family relationships we need to be intentional.
- Spend time with one another. It seems so obvious, but it isn’t unusual for family members to start living separate lives as children get older. And often when they are together, they aren’t really completely there.
- Address character issues as they come up. There are times when kids are little that we just want to ignore a behavior because we are so tired of correcting, so sick of hearing ourselves say no. But diligence in discipline when our children are young lays the foundation for strong relationships. It may seem counterintuitive, but kids feel loved when they have clear boundaries.
- Have fun together. It’s not just about discipline. When our kids want to hang out with us, when they know they aren’t going to be constantly corrected and nagged, then they will receive discipline so much better when the time comes for it. And the truth is we all want to enjoy one another. So fill your home with laughter.
- Speak to one another respectfully And that goes for us as parents as much as for our children! Even more so. They learn more from how we act than what we say.
- Engage in conversation. Real conversation where you listen as much (or more) than you talk.
- Forgive one another. As families that spend a lot of time together, as a group of imperfect people living together, we will all mess up. Let’s tender our hearts toward one another. May we all work to live in peace with one another. And remember Dear Mom: You are their example. But don’t let that scare you. When you mess up apologize. They will learn so much through seeing you humble yourself. And they will realize they can do the same.
3. Establish a routine or schedule (and stick to it).
If you want to set your homeschool year up for success, you will need to come up with a routine or schedule. Yes, how we homeschool is unique to every family. And unique to every mom’s personality. Some thrive on a schedule, while others are more “go-with-the-flow” types. It’s important to know what type of person you are, and to recognize what weaknesses you may have because of your personality.
Those who schedule down to the minute may need to allow for some flexibility and guard against stressing out their children. And the more laid-back mom may need to discipline herself to make sure learning is happening consistently.
But whatever your personality type is, a schedule or routine will help your homeschool run more smoothly. Your kids know what to expect. Habit formation becomes easier because there isn’t a constant question of whether or not your will be doing a certain subject.
Want to learn more about how to plan your homeschool year and create a routine or schedule that works for you? To see examples from other homeschooling families?
- Creating a Homeschool Routine You Can Stick With from Grace, Grow & Edify
- Could a Homeschool Routine Be Just What You Need from Homeschool Mastery Academy
- Our Simple ADHD Schedule from Look! We’re Learning.
- 5 Tips for Planning for Your Homeschool Challenges from Growing in Grace.
- Plan Your Homeschool Year for More Flexibility from Life with Moore Babies.
- How I Plan My Homeschool Part 2: “Do the Next Thing” from Blossom and Root.
- To Plan or Not to Plan: Realistic Homeschool Planning from Homeschool Your Boys
- Lesson Plan for the Entire Year in 6 Easy Steps from The Musings of Mum
4. Commit to consistency.
Will life happen sometimes? Of course. And homeschooling offers flexibility to take care of those things. Our kids often learn so much through watching how we handle the difficulties and trials that come our way— and they learn through pitching in and helping, or taking on more responsibility themselves. Unexpected illnesses, taking care of aging parents, and the hot water heater bursting and flooding our homes are all the things of life. And we have to take care of it.
But when we have an overall habit of consistency, those things do not have to derail our homeschools to the point that the train isn’t on or even near the tracks anymore.
If we want to be consistent, one of the best things we can do is to start the day off right. Get the Quick-Start Guide that will teach you how to do just that!
5. Keep it simple.
It is so easy to want to add more and do more. We often call it supplementing. And though it may be necessary at times, often we “do more” because we are afraid. We are afraid we aren’t doing enough, that our kids will have gaps in their education, or that some great opportunity may pass us by (also known as FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out).
Related: The Fear of Not Doing Enough
But more isn’t necessarily better. Often by doing more we aren’t doing anything really well.
So carefully consider what you will be doing and stick to it. When other opportunities come, when you learn about that great curriculum or resource, when you hear about that excellent class being offered—stop. Prayerfully think about whether this good thing is the best thing for your homeschool. Ask yourself:
- Does this align with our values and vision for our homeschool?
- Will this resource, curriculum, or activity cause undo stress for my children? For me?
- Is it something we could do later and not right away?
Set your homeschool year up for success so you can get through the difficult days.
I’m going to go ahead and let you in on a little secret: Your year will not go perfectly no matter what you do! (I know you are shocked!)
But having tough days, weeks and even months is OK. Difficulties are a part of the process, a part of the learning for both you and your kids. As Winston Churchill said,
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
So don’t worry if things don’t always go as you plan.
Know, though, that when we take the time to prepare our hearts and minds, and when we have a plan in place, we can set ourselves and our children up for success no matter what circumstances unfold. We can get back on track even when the inevitable difficulties come. And we can adjust and be flexible without sacrificing our school year.
Take some time to set your homeschool up for success no matter what time of year it is!